Malawi – a perfect country to visit with kids

Malawi, we fell in love with you! We spent four months in Malawi with our three young children, age 10, 8 and 4. We think Malawi is the perfect African country to visit with young children, and in this blog we will tell you why. The diversity of the landscapes, the relatively short distances between high lights and the most friendly people, make this country a perfect destination for a family holiday. There’s the big five as well as tropical beaches, there are highlands as well as dense forests. Here’s our list of places you don’t want to miss when going to Malawi.

1. The big 5 in Majete & Liwonde national park

Malawi has two major national parks and wildlife reserves that are both owned by African Parks. In recent years a lot of wildlife has been restored, and now the parks are a fair competition to the parks of their neighboring countries. Compared to some big parks in South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania, these parks are a lot smaller with the biggest advantage to have a bigger chance to see wildlife. Both parks offer a range of accommodation, from camping to high-end lodges.

Our picks

In Majete we camped for one night on a beautiful campsite in the middle of the park. Hearing elephants crushing trees and lions roar in the middle of the night is just magical. We explored the park in our own Land Rover and came across beautiful landscapes and loads of wildlife. A hyena came even very close to our car! We didn’t spot the lions this time, but saw loads of antelopes and elephants. Majete doesn’t have all the big five yet, but the beautiful scenery sure makes up for that.

In Liwonde we had the coolest accommodation ever as we slept in a real tree house! When we were playing cards at night, an elephant came up to the tree house, eating his way through the trees around. Watching him from above was maybe one of the most memorable moments of this trip. During a boat safari we came up very close to hippo’s, buffalo’s and crocodiles. The very experienced guide made sure we had enough time to really see these big and beautiful animals. The next morning, the same guide took us into the park for a sunrise game drive. We came across elephants and antelopes. Our search for lions, leopards and cheetah’s didn’t succeed, but the thrill to maybe find them is sometimes as exciting. It just gives us a reason to come back to this beautiful wildlife reserve.

2. Nyika Plateau

The Nyika Plateau is situated in the less traveled northern region of Malawi, but a must-see! With 2000 meters above sea level, this plateau offers great views and a completely different landscape than any other part of the country. The temperatures together with the evergreen pine forests and lush green hills make Nyika to look like the Scottish highlands. After a long day of hiking, mountain biking, fishing or game viewing, you can cuddle up in front of the fire place and enjoy a warm meal cooked by your own personal chef.

Our picks

We arrived at the plateau in our own 4×4 Land Rover Defender. A 4×4 is a must driving up to the plateau as the roads are pretty bad. Don’t let the drive turn you down though, as the scenery is breathtaking. We stayed two nights in the self containing cottages and two nights at the lodge. Both places are great, and you get your own chef! He made the best meals out of the groceries we brought. We really enjoyed hiking through the forests, mountain biking, game viewing with our own car, the Nyika falls and Chosi viewpoint. Nyika is great with kids as a lot of the activities are very well suited for them. We made a separate blog on our Nyika adventures with all the information about this beautiful place.

3. Likoma island

Likoma island is a small tropical island in Lake Malawi, but actually very close to Mozambique. It’s great for beach lovers and water sports. The small island offers a range of accommodations from backpackers to a five star exclusive lodge. The island only has about 8000 inhabitants and shops are very rare but that all adds to the remote experience you have being in this piece of paradise.

Our picks

We were very lucky to discover a brand-new place owned by the original builder of the five-star resort, Kaya Mawa. The new place consist of a tree house and a beach house that are both made from local materials using wood from old fishing boats and hand made bricks. We filled our days with sailing, boat trips, snorkeling, diving, endless beach walks with the dogs and island strolls. The Katundu shop is definitely worth a visit. They make world-class chandeliers from old glass bottles, and we had a whole new wardrobe made as they have a very good tailor.

4. Dedza pottery

Dedza pottery is definitely worth a visit, especially when travelling with kids, as you can make your own pots! The kids really loved this activity. Besides this, they offer very nice accommodation and food in their cozy restaurant. You will find Dedza pottery pieces in a lot of lodges all around Malawi and going there gives you the chance to make an original Dedza pot yourself. I would say, one of the best souvenirs you can bring from Malawi.

Our picks

We stayed for one night in one of the very nice cottages with pottery details all over. Your stay includes a good and hearty breakfast that keeps you going for a while. We exercised with making our own pots, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to paint them as well. When you stay a little longer, you can paint your pots, and they can send them to wherever you are in the world. It’s a lot colder in Dedza so make sure you bring something that keeps you warm.

5. Mulanje mountain

Mulanje mountain is a beautiful area in the south of Malawi. It consists of a fair mountain range with numerous hikes varying from one day to multiple day trails. The trails take you along different sceneries from bush like paths to rocky and challenging clims giving you great views over the valley. There are a number of simple but cozy trekking huts where you can spend the night

Our picks

We went on a two day hike, spending one night at Chambe hut. Although you can probably walk to Chambe hut in about three hours, it took us double the time doing it with three kids. Our starting point was at Hiker´s Nest, where we had spent the night. We were able to park our Land Rover in the gated garden and leave it there while we went on the hike. It was the first real multiple day hike for us as a family and although it was challenging, and we had to carry our youngest (4 years old) sometimes, it was so worth it. When we arrived at the hut and spent the afternoon there, the kids said it was the best day of their lives!

Mozambique highlights – our top 5

Mozambique has long been on our bucket list and after spending one month in this beautiful country with the most amazing stretch of coastline ever, we know why! Mozambique has been in the news a lot lately, and unfortunately that hasn’t done this country any good. Yes there is a conflict going on in the North of Mozambique but do you know how big this country is !? Although we would have loved to visit this northern part of the country too, there was enough left to see and do. So here’s our top 5 of things you should do in Mozambique, most of them with kids.

  1. Swimming with dolphins

This has to be our number one! What an amazing experience to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat in the Mozambican waters of Ponta do Ouro. A big part of the coastline of Ponta do Ouro is a marine reserve protected area, so there’s no mass fishing. The dolphins of Ponta, as they are called by Dolphin Encounters Research center, are researched by Angie and her collegians for over 25 years. Therefore, this company is in our opinion the best one to go with for a swim with dolphins, making this an edutourism activity. They know where are the best chances of finding them and how to behave when in the water. Being in the water with a big group op dolphins was an experience we can’t even describe. We were in the water with all our kids (age 9, 7 and 3) and they all loved it. And so did the dolphins! They really liked the presence of kids in the water and kept coming back to us. We could stay in the water with the dolphins as long as we wanted, but we have to admit that after one hour of playing with the dolphins, we all got a little tired.


When you really want to experience the whitest beaches and clearest waters you’ve ever seen, then a boat trip to the Bazaruto Archipelago is absolutely something you don’t want to miss. From the city of Vilanculos, there are several operators that offer day trips to this little group of islands. We went with Bazaruto Encounters and spent a full day on a very fast speed boat that brought us to various places. Our first stop was two mile, a famous reef for snorkeling. Although it was a little choppy, we were all able to go in the water and see some great fish and amazing coral. The kids sat in front of the speed boat and really loved this part of the trip where the boat cruised over the waves and splashed the kids faces. After snorkeling, we stopped at the first island and climbed a big sand dune, from where we had great views over the archipelago. With no other people around, we felt on top of the world and ran down to dive in the clear blue waters. The boat picked us up again to have lunch at another amazing beach. The lunch is freshly prepared by a chef on the beach. After lunch, we spent a few hours exploring more of the island and ofcourse we soaked ourselves in the warm Indian Ocean. On the way back to the mainland, our guide dropped us of at the famous red dune for a beautiful sunset.


Just an hour south of Maputo, lies this beautiful national park. It was taken over by Peace Parks a few years ago and has since then undergone major developments in restoring wildlife, as well as in accommodation facilities. The park is a beautiful mixture of thick bush and grasslands with never ending horizons. Our private camp was situated right next to the beach and had two brand-new bathroom facilities. Although we weren’t very lucky with viewing any game, we enjoyed being in this beautiful piece of nature, that our experience still made it to number three. Sleeping in an area where wildlife just grazes around your tent at night is always very special.


Ponta do Ouro is not only a great place for dolphins, but also one of the view places in the world where you can dive with sharks in their natural habitat without using bate to get their attention. This sure was one of the most thrilling things we ever did. First you dive in the big blue on a depth of 30 meters. Then you just relax and wait….. The anxiety of being very deep in the ocean without seeing anything but blue around already got our adrenaline pumping. Only a few minutes after we were down, the first curious bull shark came swimming up to us to check it out. After this we saw more bull sharks, white tip sharks and a hammerhead shark. Realizing that there’s absolutely nothing to protect you makes this experience very thrilling. At the same time, we never felt unsafe with our dive instructor, who has numerous years of experience diving with sharks. When you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience, this is definitely it!


Thinking back about this moment gives us goosebumps again. We went on an ocean safari in Tofo. Our main aim was to see the great and majestic whale shark. The guide from Peri Peri Divers explained to us how to look for whale sharks. Keep a close eye on the water and when you see a massive dark shadow, you probably found one. Meaning you have to be ready to get in the water any time as you don’t want them to disappear in the deep without being able to swim next to them. We were so excited when one of the boat men saw the big dark shadow! It’s hard to expect anything when you’ve never so close to an animal of that size. When we went down in the water, and we’re able to swim next to this beautiful and giant whale shark, we could only just think how small we are.

Things we didn’t mention but are definitely worth it:

  • Learn kite surfing in Tofo!

As described above, Tofo is a great little beach town with a very laid back atmosphere. Good restaurants and stunning blue waters. We had a great afternoon with Chris from Kite Surf Tofo. Chris is a certified IKO instructor, so we felt very safe and secure to have our first lessons in the lovely warm waters of the bay in Tofo. Kite surfing is a sport everybody can learn, all you need is some wind.

  • Nkwichi beach lodge

Bordering Lake Malawi but as it is Mozambique, it does deserve a spot on this list. Nkwichi is a halcyon paradise hidden on the pristine Mozambican shores of Lake Malawi. More than a lodge, Nkwichi is a complete experience, offering a unique taste of Africa with exquisite lakeside scenery and unparalleled tranquility. With 8 secluded beaches set on four km of Rift Valley coastline, Nkwichi is the perfect setting to discover a lost world; a fresh-water oasis and an Africa untouched.